An extra £100,000 is being provided by Nottingham City Council to provide additional support for rough sleepers this winter.
The funding will enable the Council and partners to continue to support the city’s No Second Night Out approach despite Nottingham, like other parts of country, experiencing a significant increase in the number of rough sleepers over the last year.
A robust Cold Weather Plan is in place in Nottingham, with a winter shelter and other measures from November until the end of March.
The extra funding will enable an additional 32 beds to be provided on top of the 20 already being made available as part of the Winter Shelter managed by Emmanuel House in partnership with city churches and other agencies.
Building on its active year-round approach to tackling homelessness, Nottingham City Council leads a multi-agency group, including Framework Housing Association, hostels and local churches, which aims to prevent new, repeat and entrenched rough sleeping, as well as reducing the risks to the health and well-being of those who sleep on the streets. They are identified, assessed, supported and accommodated in Nottingham or reconnected back to their local community if they are not from Nottingham.
In Nottingham it has been agreed that all Cold Weather Plan measures are implemented from November 16 to April 4, regardless of the actual temperature or weather conditions during that period.
The Winter Shelter’s primary goal is to reduce rough sleeping and risk of rough sleeping. Available beds will be prioritised in terms of reducing risk and who would benefit most, rather than on a first come first served basis. In addition, those finding themselves in these circumstances can be referred to foodbanks or other services which provide free meals.
Also throughout this period, a nurse-led team provides practical healthcare, assessment, treatment, advice and support via drop-in clinics and outreach to those who are homeless, in hostel accommodation or vulnerably housed in Nottingham. Homeless people are also signposted to drop-in clinics that are held at various venues on different days throughout the week.
A homeless prevention service also works with people with drug and alcohol problems who are ‘sofa surfing’ and have the potential to end up on the streets, or are vulnerably housed and having difficulties sustaining their tenancies. The service supports people to maintain their homes, and reduce the risk of potential homelessness. Citizens Advice Housing Advice provides free, independent and impartial advice to those with housing or housing related debt issues.
The council’s Community Protection Officers operate in the city centre and every Nottingham neighbourhood, and will identify anyone sleeping rough and help anyone at risk to access support and accommodation. On Friday and Saturday nights Street Pastors from 24 different city churches are out and about in Nottingham and are also well placed to identify anyone at risk of rough sleeping and can help with accessing accommodation and support options.
During the winter months, supported accommodation providers are asked to refresh their allocation, assessment and eviction processes to reduce the risks of an individual losing a placement and becoming street homeless. Where possible and appropriate, Nottingham City Homes are committed to prioritising and fast tracking applications from people who are assessed as at risk of rough sleeping at this time of year.
Portfolio Holder for Planning and Housing, Councillor Jane Urquhart, said: “This time of year is particularly difficult for people who have sadly ended up sleeping rough, and so special measures are always put in place to try to prevent it in the first place and provide support when it does happen.
“Our housing aid team works closely with Framework’s Street Outreach Team, alongside local hostels, churches and other organisations, to make sure there is a safety net in place for those vulnerable people who are in most need during the winter months.”
“Despite reductions in the grant funding the Council receives from the Government year on year, we’ve worked hard to find the extra money needed to ensure we can continue our No Second Night Out policy this year in the face of ever-increasing demand.”
Andrew Redfern, Chief Executive of Framework, welcomed the Cold Weather Plan: “The level of rough sleeping is rising across the country and sadly, Nottingham is no exception. This takes a terrible toll on those involved, especially if they already have serious health problems. We strongly support the City Council in its efforts to ensure that no-one is forced to sleep rough, especially during the winter months. The decision to implement the Plan for the whole of this period, not just the coldest nights, is especially welcome.”
Mr. Redfern added that his staff will work closely with colleagues in the City Council, at the Winter Shelter and voluntary sector partners to deliver the plan successfully. He said: “A combination of circumstances have put services for homeless people under extreme pressure. So this is a time for partnership working. In this way we can avoid the worst consequences of rough sleeping for the people who find themselves resorting to it. There is a shared aim to get as many people indoors as possible, and to do so as quickly as we can.”
Anyone sleeping rough or who spots someone who is should make a referral to the Street Outreach Team 24 hours a day via the Freephone number: 0800 066 5356